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Will (soap-opera) geeks ever inherit the Earth (while staying geeks)?

It’s not exactly Thunderdome, but last week in the world of soaps one geek entered as another geek left.

General Hospital’s Damian Spinelli dropped in to visit his baby mama, Maxie (strangely sans baby; you’d think he’d grok — that’s geek for understand — that Maxie would want to see her child after Damien and new squeeze Ellie took the tot all the way across the country).

Spinelli (geeks eschew first names — and use words like eschew) first popped up in Port Charles in 2006 (presumably he’d been living in town before that as a PCU student but, as we learned on Boy Meets World, it was “on the other side of the camera”). He was your basic slacker-hacker, alternating between getting stoned and snacking on barbecue corn chips and orange soda (aka “the nectar of the gods”), and brilliantly creating a fake flash drive for a mobster (the bad one, Lorenzo, not the good one, Sonny, natch). Who said drugs killed brain cells? Not Spinelli!

Then again, after his association with the bad mobster led to being attacked by hit men and kidnapped, Spinelli pledged his eternal devotion to the good mobster (or rather, his equally noble and heroic enforcer, Jason). So maybe Spinelli isn’t quite as clever as the show would like us to think he is.

Over a decade of life in Port Charles, the writers kept reminding us that Spinelli was brilliant — and geeky — by having him speak in a patois of his own design, while constantly forming crushes on women who didn’t return his affections. It looked like Spinelli was finally poised to win a girl of his own with Winifred, who was a fan of his computer game and equally geeky (she wore glasses, what more proof do you need?). But it turned out Winifred was actually an FBI agent using Spinelli to gather evidence about the good and noble mob. Like all women, Winifred soon saw the error of her law-abiding ways and helped Spinelli release a worm into the FBI computer system, wiping away all evidence of his crimes.

Spinelli eventually got his Happily Ever After (as much as that’s a thing on soaps) when he fell for yet another geek girl, Ellie (she was a lab tech, what more proof do you need?), and the pair moved West with Spinelli and Maxie’s daughter, Georgie. (One wonders, if they ever do wed, whether she will assume the name Ellie Spinelli.) But the self-dubbed “Jackal” (and “Ace of Cyberspace” … and “Legend of Lexicon” … and “Cyber Sampson”) still periodically pops back into town, where his gifted brain is primarily used to listen to Maxie whine about her ongoing romantic dramas with men who are not Spinelli. (They have killer abs, though.)

The same week that one socially maladjusted genius returned to the soap world, news broke that The Young & the Restless’ Dr. Neville, as played by Emmy-winning soap vet Michael E. Knight (no relation to Knight Rider except that both he and actor David Hasselholf were both once married to Catherine Hickland), had been let go from the show. Which is a shame, because it really looked like Neville was headed for a romance with Ashley. He even allowed her to tell him, “I’m smarter than you.” And he agreed! But maybe daytime wasn’t quite ready for a leading man who is both sexy and brilliant? (Pick one, gentlemen.)

Fortunately, Y&R still has plenty of geeks on the payroll. The list starts with Kevin, who was initially introduced as an Internet predator responsible for giving Lily an STD but who eventually reformed (though a large chipmunk head was peripherally involved), and ends with newcomer Natalie. Natalie wears glasses (or, at least she did, until she decided she was absolutely hideous in them and went the makeover route). Natalie invented a program that prevents computers from getting externally hacked. She also frequently puts her foot in her mouth and bumps into things (taking the glasses off didn’t help), which, as we all know, is proof of high intelligence.

But Natalie shouldn’t worry. The Bold & the Beautiful’s Liam was also initially introduced as a computer geek and, within the span of a few years, he not only learned that he was the illegitimate child of a mogul, but he upgraded his wardrobe, moved into the romantic leading-man role … and got much, much stupider.

The closest soaps ever came to a brilliant and built hero was when the online All My Children revival introduced Pete. Nerdy on the network, on the Internet he was introduced as the successful head of his own tech company … who also sported some serious abs (maybe Maxie would date him). Of course, we never actually saw Pete write a line of code or even really manage his business. He spent most of his time in bed with Colby, living the (presumably) true American Dream. The only reason to use your brains is to get girls. After that, eh ….

So what do you think, will soaps ever feature a male character who is both smart and studly? Or a woman (without glasses) who can be intelligent and irresistible? Tell us in the comments!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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